Foley Catheters

Foley catheters, also referred to simply as indwelling catheters, are meant for those who require continuous catheterization. A Foley catheter is used in almost all cases whenever an indwelling catheter is required. Most Foley catheters have a double-lumen design and are known as two-way Foley catheters. There are some called three-way Foley catheters because they have a third rubber tubing used for continuous flushing of the bladder. The catheter is inserted into the urinary bladder and left there for a long time. There are different types of Foley catheters from various manufacturers which are cost effective and reliable.

How is a Foley catheter used

An indwelling Foley catheter is inserted into the bladder and held in place through a balloon which is placed in the bladder and then inflated by injecting sterile water into it. One end of the indwelling catheter which is inserted into the bladder has the balloon at its tip while the other end has two or three channels/lumens. One connects to a urinary drainage bag while the other has a valve attached. Through this sterile water is injected to inflate the balloon. The balloon remains inside the bladder and prevents the catheter from slipping out of the body.

When the catheter has to be withdrawn, the water is pulled out of the balloon with the help of a syringe and the tubing removed easily.

Basically there are two types of Foley catheters – urethral and supra-pubic. A urethral catheter is inserted into the bladder while a supra-pubic Foley catheter involves placing the catheter into the bladder through a small cut in the abdomen.


Choosing a Foley catheter


Indwelling Foley catheter types are several and will depend on your individual needs. Factors that will decide your selection include gender, period of usage, material sensitivity. You also have choose from size, length, material

Foley catheter size: The common sizes of Foley catheters are in the range of 10 FR to 28 FR.

Foley catheter length: Length of a Foley catheter is a standard 46 cm. Men need longer tubing and this is usually between 40 and 45 cm. For female the standard length is 25 cm.

Foley catheter material: Foley catheters are generally made from silicone rubber or latex natural/rubber. The latter is cheaper but usually avoided because the user can be prone to infections due to latex and it can also cause hypersensitive reactions.Then there are silicone-latex catheters which are essentially latex but with silicone coating. It lasts between one and two weeks.

Catheters made exclusively of silicone are expensive but popular. They are safer and securer in comparison and last longer, for up to 6 to 8 weeks. But they are more rigid.

Period of usage: Your catheter choice will also depend on your usage. Whether you need for the short term of up to two weeks, or long term for up to three months.

Short-term Foley catheters are generally used during surgeries and the post-surgery period, to provide relief from short-term urinary retention, for administration of medication into the bladder or to monitor urine output.These may be made of PVC or latex or Teflon-coated latex.

Long-term Foley catheters are used in cases where the patient is bed-ridden, has a chronic illness and unable to pass urine the normal way. Situations include severe urinary incontinence, bladder outlet obstruction and chronic urine retention because of a neurological disease or injury. These catheters are made of silicone, silicone-elastomer coated latex, hydrophilic-polymer coated latex, silver-alloy coated catheters and more.

Foley catheters have multiple features. Coude tip Foley catheters have a bent tip to allow for easy maneuvering through the urethra and into the bladder. An example is the Medtronic Covidien Dover catheter which is two-way and silicone with 30cc balloon capacity.

Then there are round tip Foley catheters like the 2-way silicone Foley catheter from Bard, straight tip Foley catheters like Medline’s straight tip which is a three-way, silicone-elastomer coated, latex catheter. Also available are olive tip Foley catheters like the Bard Bardex lubricath, or funnel end Foley catheters like the four-wing tip Male cot catheter from Rusch.


The variety can be confusing and mind-boggling but based on your medical condition and the doctor’s recommendation it is easy to shortlist the options and then pick one that offers all the features and options you need.

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